What You Need to Know: This is a romance-y spin on the current Greek Gods trend, featuring a strong heroine and an interesting premise.
Summary: Kate Winters has spent the last several years waiting for her mom to die, living to care for her, and shutting out everyone else. Now, as her mom reaches end stage, Kate has come to Eden, Michigan, her mom’s hometown, to wait for the inevitable. Eden is the smallest of small towns, and Kate attracts the attention of mean girl Ava. When Ava dies playing a prank on Kate, a mysterious stranger named Henry appears from nowhere and offers Kate a deal – Henry will reanimate Ava, if Kate will agree to live in his home from Fall to Spring. Eventually, Kate takes Henry up on his offer, but discovers there is more to the request. See, Henry is Hades, and since Persephone’s death millennia ago, he has ruled Hades alone. Now, he has little time left to find a queen, or else loose his purpose, and his existence.
What works: This is an interesting take on the Greek pantheon, that they existed before the Greeks gave them names, and have continued to exist after. Kate is a likeable heroine, and her reasons for accepting Henry’s offer are clear and understandable. Kate’s mom, Diana, is also an interesting character, who gives her daughter excellent, if not exactly selfless, advice.
As for Henry, he is a very engaging guy. A little broody and aloof, but the reader can understand why Kate wants to save him.
All through the book, the reader knows something HUGE that Kate doesn’t. For me, this made the book an interesting experiment -- my knowledge makes me see the characters differently than Kate does. It created a tension that I liked.
What didn’t: Is it written on a scroll somewhere that ALL YA paranormals must include a love triangle? In this one, its between Henry, Kate and another god named James. James is a twitchy bag of ticks, and more than a little underhanded, and why Kate might feel something for him is never clear.
The “Goddess Test” in the title is actually a series of 7 tests, but Kate doesn’t know when they are happening or what the tests even are. So while the book is engaging, there is no epic quest, no training, and no huge denouement. Kate lives in Henry’s home and… hangs out. It’s a little bit of a bait and switch.
Verging into spoiler territory, the “twist” at the end of the book left me feeling flat. No, I didn’t see it coming (although Carter does drop hints, if you know what to look for) but it also felt a little contrived, and opened up some huge questions about the universe Kate and Henry live in.
However: The above makes it sound like I didn’t like the book. But I did. I liked it more than a lot of YA paranormal romances.
Who Would I Give This Book To? Teen girls looking for more paranormal reads, who have had it with vampires,. teen fans of Percy Jackson who liked the romance angle.
Review copy downloaded from NetGalley.